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Lures for adventure surf fishing

Page history last edited by Todd 13 years, 11 months ago




There are only brief windows of opportunity when roosterfish are near shore.  When they are just a short cast out, they are usually feeding aggressively and many types of lures (even flies) will do the job.  But, these windows of opportunity are short and scattered.  The non-resident fisherman needs to be able to catch roosterfish when they are in their much more frequent position which is at the far edge of the sand shelf.  In the Eastern Pacific, this is usually around 100 yards out.  150 yards is not unusual.  Your lures need to have the capability to reach these extreme distances and there is a trade off in designs that can reach that far and yet retain action and realism.  For this reason, the most frequently used roosterfish lures are fished in a very rapid surface-skipping manner.  This gives the fish only brief glimpses of the lure and triggers their predatory instinct.  They will frequently follow just behind the lure and hit it or turn away at any point (even following right up to your feet).  Roosterfish have very keen eyesight.  If you slow or stop the retrieve they will see that your long distance (and unnatural looking) lure is a fake and they will turn away.  Here are some effective plugs and metals.


The Roberts plug travels through the air like a dart and reaches extreme distances.  These lures are rapidly skipped over the surface and they have a twisting dodging action simulating a fleeing baitfish.  They are very effective in attracting roosterfish but their downside is they have a lower hooking percentage because of the single trailing hook. 

The hooking percentage can be increased by replacing the single rear hook with a 4/0 4X treble hook.  The lure will cast just a bit less far and the action will be damped just a bit.  However, you will end up with more fish landed at the end of the day.  The barbs on the treble hook should be crushed down.  If you fail to do this, hook removal will be very difficult and fish mortality will be increased.  You will not experience lost fish with the lack of hook barbs!   Roosterfish are true tophy fish and every effort should be made to release them alive.

Roberts lures can be found in a variety of desireable weights.  The 2 1/2 ounce Whistler is easy to cast, non-fatigueing, and quite effective.  The 3-ounce Ranger matches up with rods that are a little bigger.  The 4 ounce Big Shot is for the biggest rods.

I would use the Ranger or the Big Shot with a single hook for the most extreme distance casting requirements. 

Red/white and chrome are the most favored ones.  The chrome finish wears off quickly so coat them with clear epoxy. 


A Roberts Ranger in the 4/0 treble hook configuration:


The 3 ounce Surface Tension by the Line Stretcher lure company is a similar surface skipping lure that is excellent.  It casts just a bit less far than the Roberts but it has a nice splash and retrieves with less resistance.  A large benefit is that it is a little more boyant than the Roberts lures.  It gives you the opportunity to slowly "idle" the lure until it is in the right position in relation to a wave.  Those things plus nice colors, a big eye, and excellent durability sometimes makes it more effective than a Roberts.  The standard hook should be replaced with a double hook made by clipping the third hook off a 5/0 4X VMC treble.  Bending the remaining two hooks into a flat plane and using two split rings allow the hooks to hug tightly to the body of the lure during the cast.  The double hooks significantly increase the hooking percentage.   The three ounce Surface Tension is a top notch choice in many rooster fishing situations.  Yellow and pearl are both excellent color choices.


A three ounce Surface Tension.  The modified double hook with two split rings should be used:



The next lure is the 2 3/8 ounce Super Strike Little Neck Popper.  It is called a “sinker” but actually comes to the surface when retrieved.  I highly recommend you modify it by filling the lower rear cavity with lead shot (see Tips and Tricks) Modifying the Super Strike Little Neck Popper .  It will cast very far and it's one of the best plugs for casting into a strong head wind.  I replace the standard hooks with a strong split ring and a 4/0 VMC treble with crushed barbs When retrieved very fast it makes a large bubble trail and throws a lot of fish attracting water.  Due to its deeply cupped face it exhibits a lot of water restistance.  This can wear you out however sometimes this resistance is desireable because it keeps line bowing to a minimum when fishing in strong winds.  Yellow (or parrot) is a great color and white (or silver) bellied ones are good too. 


A "warrior" status Super Strike Little Neck Popper:



Here is a 6 inch Tsunami Talkin Popper.  Like the Super Strike, you should add lead shot to the butt for increased distance.  This lure needs to be drilled on it's back (not the belly) and lead shot is added to bring the total weight to nearly three ounces.  It comes in an amazing vaiety of colors and patterns.  This plug fishes very easily and  it's great for less experienced pluggers.   Experienced pluggers can fish all day with it due to it's non-fatigueing assets.  It is a very bad thing to leave the belly trebles on any plug.  They cause fish mortality and greatly increase the chances that you will hook yourself during the de-hooking process.  You should replace the rear treble with a 4/0 4X hook with crushed barbs and a strong split ring.  Other large plastic pencil poppers also work well and there are several different ones that fish similarly to the Tsunami.


A Tsunami Talkin Popper in the desired non-belly hook configuration.  The metallic finish (shown) models lose their paint quickly.  Choose other non-metallic colors:



Here’s a little tutorial on the Bomber A-Salt Popper which is the same plug as the Cotton Cordell but with stronger hooks and split rings. It’s 7 inches long and weighs 1 ¾ ounces (not the published 2 ounces).  This lure is the most inexpensive large rooster popper available. The Bomber version comes in better rooster colors but the Cordell can be hit with a little spray paint for the color/pattern you desire (and replace the hook/ring).
When modified, the Bomber casts extremely well. It has the LEAST retrieval resistance of all the plugs we use (Yea). The very long slim profile might mimic ladyfish and mullet better than all our other plugs.   I think there might be something to the profile of long slim plugs that works.
Beefing up the Bomber/Cordell required some investigation. When I cut the plug in half, it was obvious that central interior structural stiffener in each half did not butt up against each other. In fact, there is a pretty large gap between them. This means you need to use large shot to avoid migration into other compartments. It’s going to take #1 or BB size shot to prevent this from happening. Those sizes are difficult to find in lead because of the non-toxic waterfowling laws. It’s easiest to use steel BBs like for a BB gun. If you pack both rear chambers (top and bottom) and the center bottom compartment you will achieve 3 ounces (ideal). The back compartment hole should be drilled one -inch from the end of the plug. The middle compartment hole should be drilled 1 ½ -inches from the end of the plug.



But here is something to be very careful of. Do not drill through the center partition of the middle compartment!! Otherwise, your shot can migrate into the top compartment. There is a strong tendency for your drill bit to grab just as it penetrates the outside shell of the plug and dive down into the middle partition! Go slow and carefully!
In the rear compartment, you DO want to drill through the central partition so that you can fill both the top and bottom chambers. A hot  hot glue gun works well for sealing the drilled holes or you can use epoxy thickened with talcum powder or epoxy putty.



I've been experimenting with a special hook hanging system.  This seems to work very well and the plug definitely casts better when getting the hooks out of the leading edge of the air slip stream. I think the fish hooking percentage will be enhanced because the hooks are in ideal position for a fish attacking from the rear/below position. HEY! Why not try this hook hanging system on the Tsunami!!??







Metal spoon type lures are very useful.  They catch a wide variety of species and with proper selection they can cast very far.  Jack Crevelle love metals (they also like roosterfish lures-see above), they are a good lure for snappers (although they will also occassionally hit roosterfish lures), and they also are the best lure for sierra mackerel, hawkfish, and other assorted species.  I would never take an adventure surf fishing trip without some of these.



The top lure is a Krocodile spoon #5.  The #5 is much thicker and a little narrower than other Krocodile spoons.  Because of this, it casts farther than it's cousins.  It has a fluttering action that works in the upper part of the water column.  The downside is this lure does not perform well with the very fast retrieve speeds that are often desireable on the Mexican Pacific.


The next metal is the 2 ounce (actually weights @ 2 1/2 ounces) F-14 also known as a Mikey Jig.  It is quite butt weighted and fairly narrow with a straight pofile.  It's a casting rocket.  It has a side to side swimming tail wag and it works the mid-depths.


The third metal is a 4 ounce TD Jig.  It is narrow with no broad wind planing surfaces.  It is butt weighted and casts very far.  It's got a wicked twisting and shimmering action with random dodges.  It stays down even in high waves and with rapid retrieves.  I like this when the wind and waves are high and when I want to fish deep rapidly.


The fourth metal is a 3 ounce T-Hex.  It is very compact and narrow.  It keeps its depth well when retrieved rapidly and has a subtle side-to-side wag.  This metal does a good job of simulating the small "sardina" bait fish that is prevelant on the Mxican Pacific. The T-Hex has caught many species and the two ounce version is a killer for sierra mackerel.


The bottom metal is a 1 ounce Castmaster.  It is useful for fishing over the near shore rocks for smaller species of fish.  It seems to sling fairly well with the big rods even though it is below their weight ratings.  Large Castmasters do not cast as far as the previously described metals.







The top bait in the photo represents many lifelike plastic lures with a molded in weight.  They are the ultimate in realism but they do not cast very far and need to be worked fairly slow.  When the conditions are right they are are effective but this doesn't happen often.


The middle lure is representative of a "shad" type lead head with a plastic body.  They lead heads can be purchased in a wide variety of weights but I think one to two ounce heads are most useful.  They cast farther than the molded in weight plastics.  A big advantage is you can just replace the body when the plastic gets bit off.  That's cheaper and you don't have to carry around as much weight.  The below photo shows what can happen to three plastics in three minutes.




 In general, the traveling surf fisherman will be more productive with plugs that are retrieved rapidly.  Jigs and plastics require pin-pointing ambush type fish (like snook) and this is quite difficult to do when limited to a week of fishing.


I would be negligent if I didn't mention that there are also some fine wooden plugs that are very effective.  Typically, the pencil popper, needlefish, and little neck popper configurations work best.  The person that desires these finely made plugs will know where to find them.


A Mike Fixter wooden plug:












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